SUNRISE, Fla. (KDKA/AP) — Zbynek Michalek scored his fourth goal of the season to break a 2-2 tie and the Penguins snapped a two-game losing skid with a win over the Florida Panthers Saturday night.
Jordan Staal had three assists in the 4-2 win over the Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center. With the victory, the Pens swept Florida in a season series for the first time.
Penguins’ backup goalie Brent Johnson made 28 saves in the win. Scott Clemmensen, making his fourth consecutive start in place of injured Tomas Vokoun, made 30 saves for Florida.
Michalek has four goals this season, all scored in the past 12 games. But the defenseman’s latest offensive contribution, the game-winner with 7:49 left, might be his biggest yet.
Tyler Kennedy gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 1:45 into the game when he scored his 20th goal of the season with assists from Staal and Chris Kunitz. It was Staal’s 100th assist in the NHL.
But by the time the first period was over, the Panthers had a 2-1 lead as Jack Skille and Clay Wilson scored 22 seconds apart. It was the fastest two goals scored by Florida this season.
Skille’s goal was his first for Florida since being acquired from Chicago in February. He scored at 14:38 when he knocked down a pass from Marty Reasoner in front of the net and flicked a quick shot past Johnson.
Wilson scored his third goal in 12 games since begin recalled from the minors at 15:00 when he beat Johnson with a wrist shot from just outside the left faceoff dot.
The Pens responded early in the second period.
Pascal Dupuis tied it 45 seconds into the period when Max Talbot’s spin-around backhand attempt from the front of the net went across the crease. With Clemmensen out of position, Dupuis scored into an open net.
Michalek broke the tie in the third with a delayed penalty upcoming against the Panthers. The defenseman beat Clemmensen with a slap shot from the top right circle.
A little more than a minute after Michalek’s goal, Johnson made a great pad save on David Booth’s backhand attempt. Johnson then made another stellar pad stop on Marty Reasoner while Florida was on a 4-on-3 power play.
Craig Adams scored an empty-net goal with 1:30 remaining to seal the win.
The Penguins reached 100 points for the seventh time in franchise history.
More importantly, they remained three points ahead of fifth-place Tampa Bay, which won earlier Saturday, in the race for home-ice advantage in the likely Eastern Conference first-round playoff matchup. Tampa Bay has four games to play, one more than the Pens.
Up next, the Pens return to Pittsburgh for a game Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. against the New Jersey Devils. It’s the last game of the regular season at the CONSOL Energy Center.